Five fantasy series I finished this year and loved ūüďö‚̧ԳŹ

most-beautiful
Hello There

At the beginning of the year, I made a list of all the book series I wanted to continue and/or finish in 2020, and I’m happy to say that as of July, I have finished nine book series and am up-to-date on quite a few!

I’ve talked about it in the past, but the thing is, I have a hate/love relationship with finales: more often than not, they disappoint me, in part because I have a lot of expectations, in part because writing a great finale can be really tough. Either way, finishing book series is a struggle for me, but this year, I am determined to get better at it, and so far, I am killing it. I even enjoyed reading every book in a series back to back, so I’m hoping to do more of that in the future.

Out of all the series I have finished so far this year, my favourites have all been adult fantasy series written by women, which makes me really happy, and I really wanted to recommend them, so that’s what I’ll do today!

The only two series I have yet to catch up on are the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier, and the A Song of Ice and Fire series by G.R.R. Martin, so I’m pretty pleased with myself! I’m hoping to catch up with them soon, but we’ll see.

So, without further ado, here are five adult fantasy series I have finished this year, and really recommend:

liveship-traders

The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb

I started making my way through Robin Hobb’s books in 2018, and I adore them so much. The Liveship Traders is the second trilogy in her long Realm of the Elderlings series; it is basically the pirate book series of my dreams, and while I finished this series in January, I’m still not over how much I loved it!

This fantasy series is one of pirates, talking ships, magic, sea serpents, politics, bloody battles, and it’s fantastic! It’s also a family saga, as it mainly follows the Vestrit family, whose liveship is about to wake, and I adored following all of them, as their plotlines were very different from one another. There’s also a pirate who lusts for a liveship and has plans of his own… This trilogy is amazing and I can’t recommend Robin Hobb’s books enough!

winternight-trilogy

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

I was so engrossed in the Winternight Trilogy that I read it entirely in two weeks without taking any breaks, and it was so worth it! This trilogy is set in Rus’ and follows Vasilisa, who grows up listening to fairy tales and honouring the household spirits… until her mother dies and her father marries a devout woman, who forbids the family from honouring the spirits, which leads the crops to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune in the village.

The Winternight Trilogy is an enchanting and character-driven series based on Russian folklore, and I couldn’t get enough out of it. I adored Vasya, the main character, as well as Morozko, they both have my heart. I also loved the way folklore and magic were intertwined in the story. It’s a perfect winter read, and I’m hoping to reread it next winter!

blackthorn-and-grim

Blackthorn and Grim by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is one of my favourite authors, and what I really love about her books is that she has such a very evocative writing style, magic is in the air with every page you read, and each of her books feels like a fairy tale. The Blackthorn and Grim series is a slow-paced and character-driven book series inspired by Irish folklore, set in medieval Ireland, and it was so enchanting to read.

This series follows Blackthorn, a healer, who was wrongly imprisoned and has to make a deal with the Fair Folk to get out. Followed by Grim, a former prison mate, she settles on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help. Each book has a different mystery woven in folklore, so they’re mostly self-contained, but they all have spectacular character development for Blackthorn and Grim, so I became quite fond of their characters. I can’t recommend Juliet Marillier’s books enough!

books-of-ambha

The Books of Ambha by Tasha Suri

This duology was such an amazing surprise to me! Empire of Sand is set in a Mughal India-inspired world, where the Amrithi are nomads descended of desert spirits, who are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. This book follows Mehr, a nobleman‚Äôs daughter, who is an Amrithi, and has such power; she has no choice, but to go to the Emperor’s mystics and resist their cruel agenda… or the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance. Realm of Ash, the second book, set ten years after the events of the first book, follows Arwa, who is Mehr’s sister, and I loved it even more than the first one!

This duology has amazing world-building and characters, slow-burn romances, as well as spectacular endings, in my opinion (I cried so much because I adored the ending of both books). Both books are very engaging, so if you want to get more into adult fantasy, you should definitely check them out!

daevabad-trilogy

The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty

Last, but certainly not least, I finished The Daevabad Trilogy this month, and I’m still thinking about it every single day. This trilogy is about Nahri, a con woman living in 18th century Cairo, who doesn’t believe in magic, until she accidentally summons a mysterious djinn warrior, who then takes her to Daevabad, the legendary City of Brass. 

The Daevabad trilogy has it all: it’s a Middle-East inspired fantasy series, it has complex grey characters, fascinating world-building, intricate politics, and so much more. I rated every book in this trilogy 5 stars, which I hadn’t done for any book series since 2016. I often mention that I got into a year-long fantasy reading slump after reading The City of Brass at the beginning of 2018, and honestly, this series shaped me as a fantasy reader. It is my favourite fantasy series, and I’m so glad it has gotten a lot of hype again, as the last book in the trilogy came out last month. If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, please do, it’s amazing! ‚̧ԳŹ

Now that I’m caught up on quite a few adult fantasy series, I’m really excited to start new ones, so I might do a follow-up post to this one to talk about the ones I’m hoping to start as soon as I can!

How do you feel about book series: do you binge-read them, or struggle to finish them? What was the last book series/book finale that you really loved?

lots of love

Christmas books recommendations

Hello, beautiful people!


Wow, December definitely flew by, we’re three days away from Christmas Eve and four days away from Christmas, how did that happen? I am SO LATE¬†for Christmas shopping, you have no idea, oops. But anyway, I thought that it would be fun to recommend you four books that I’ve read that are set during Christmas, whether you want to get in a Christmas mood or read them at Christmas.


Genres: classics, short stories

Of course, I had¬†to start with this classic, you know how much I love Charles Dickens. We all know A Christmas Carol, the story of the awful Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, but it’s always great to revisit it during Christmas. The Penguin Clothbound edition not only is stunning, but it includes some of his other Christmas writings, so I’d recommend you to check that out as well! I recently saw my friend Fatima talking about Neil Gaiman’s reading of A Christmas Carol¬†and I intend to listen to it this year, it must be amazing. You can find that there¬†if you’re interested.



Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie

Genres: mystery

I got back into Agatha Christie’s mystery novels last year and of course I had to read this one over Christmas. In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, it’s Christmas Eve and the Lee family is having a reunion in their mansion for the occasion… Until it goes horribly wrong, because the tyrannical Simon Lee has been murdered and Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate. This one is a perfect cosy Christmas murder mystery (if I dare say so) and I loved that it was centered around family dynamics! As always, Agatha Christie’s characterization is on point and I loved the resolution! I still have The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding to read this year and I’m excited!



The Afterlife of Holly Chase, by Cynthia Hand
Genres: young adult, paranormal, retelling

Cynthia Hand has been one of my favourite YA authors for a long time, so of course I was delighted to get to this one, for it is a retelling of A Christmas Carol. It’s about Holly, who was visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve five years ago.¬†They tried to convince her to mend her ways. Only, she didn’t… and then she died. But it wasn’t the end for her, because she’s now stuck working for¬†the top-secret company Project Scrooge, as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Every year, they save another miserly grouch, while Holly stays frozen at seventeen and her loved ones continue living without her. But this year, everything is about to change… I adored this novel, it has a wonderful message and it got me so much. I might even reread it this year!


Mr. Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva
Genres: historical fiction

Last, but not least, I recently read this historical novel which is a reimagining of how Charles Dickens came up with A Christmas Carol. A lot of it is fictionalized of course, but reading about Charles Dickens and his struggles was wonderful to me, because I’ve always been curious about him and it motivated me even more to read a biography about him. It was a lovely and heartwarming read, reminding us of what’s important in life and what the Christmas spirit is about. I would have loved to stay with Charles Dickens a bit longer and all the references to his works made me so happy!


So that’s it for my books set during Christmas recommendations! I’d love to discover more books set during/about Christmas, so if you know any, please give me your recommendations! I also read Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien,¬†which I liked, but didn’t adore, so that’s pretty much it.


Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll have wonderful holidays if you have some,


Lots of love,
Lucie

Halloween recommendations


Hello, beautiful people!


Halloween is less than a week¬†away and I couldn’t be more excited! It also means that I only have one day left before¬†my week of holidays and I really need it. We don’t celebrate Halloween that much in France, but I love it anyway and reading/watching/listening to content that remind me of this spooky and dark atmosphere during the month of October is always so much fun. Because of that, I thought that today, I would share with you some of my Halloween recommendations! Last year, I already recommended historical fantasy novels that are perfect for Halloween, so I won’t mention them again in this post, it would get quite repetitive, so feel free to (re)read it. Anyhow, time for Halloween recommendations!

For great Halloween reads, I recommend…


‚ô°¬†The Silent Companions¬†by Laura Purcell¬†– This Gothic novel is set during the Victorian era, in a crumbling country mansion, where a young widow is sent to see out her pregnancy. While her new servants as resentful and the villagers hostile, Elsie thinks she only has her husband’s cousin for company… Or so she thinks, for behind a locked door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a creepy wooded figure that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. Its chilling atmosphere and the constant doubts of the characters makes it a gripping read that’s perfect for the season!



‚ô°¬†Rebecca¬†by Daphne du Maurier¬†– What a shocker, I am trying to make you all read Daphne du Maurier again… Well, she’s my favourite author, so it’s not *entirely* my fault. Rebecca¬†is the fascinating story of a timid girl working as a paid companion to an old lady, until she falls in love and marries the widowed Maxim de Winter. After that, she moves to his Cornish country estate, Manderley, where the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, seems to haunt the whole place. This novel is absolutely brilliant, with an intoxicating atmosphere and you’ll want to keep reading, until you know the whole truth. By the way, if you’ve already read¬†Rebecca, you can always give¬†My Cousin Rachel¬†a try, it’s perfect for the season as well and I adored the 2017 movie adaptation with Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin!


‚ô°¬†If We Were Villains¬†by M.L. Rio – This mystery novel, which has been compared (with reason!) to The Secret History, follows Oliver, who has just been released from jail after ten years, and is finally ready to tell the truth about the events that led to his incarceration. Ten years ago, Oliver was one of the young Shakespearean actors at a conversatory, where roles were played on and off stage, but in their last year, the balance of power shifted, which led to violence on opening night, until the students have to face their own tragedy. Those characters are all so morally grey and reading about their passionate relationships, with a thin limit between hate and love, as well as their fascination for Shakespeare, was amazing and it’s perfect for Fall in my opinion!

‚ô°¬†We Have Always Lived in the Castle¬†by Shirley Jackson¬†–¬†The Haunting of Hill House¬†has been all the rage lately (I can’t wait to read it for Halloween), because of the Netflix adaptation that was recently released, but Shirley Jackson’s works are full of perfect Halloween reads, from what I’ve gathered. I have already read¬†We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which follows Merricat Blackwood, who lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. There used to be seven Blackwoods… until they all died from a fatal dose of arsenic.¬†This one is set¬†in a small town, has a Gothic murder mystery and you never know who to trust, which is all you need!


‚ô° Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell – Of course, I couldn’t write this recommendation post without including some Victorian literature. I read this collection of several short stories during last year’s Victober and it was perfect to get me in a Halloween mood. These¬†chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect: you will find a story inspired by the Salem witch hunts, another with an evil doppelganger, or one
with a
¬†mysterious child roaming the freezing Northumberland moors, to name a few. Those were my first Victorian spooky short stories, my personal favourites being¬†The Poor Clare, Lois the Witch,¬†The Old Nurse’s Story and The Grey Woman. This is also your reminder to read Elizabeth Gaskell, she’s a wonderful author!


‚ô°¬†Crooked House¬†by Agatha Christie – I’ve spent 2018 reading one of Agatha Christie’s novels per month, so I’m starting to know her works quite well; my favourite I’ve read this year was Crooked House¬†and what is better than a crime novel, surrounding a family in a big mansion, to spend Halloween with? It follows the Leonides family, that were a seemingly happy family, until the head of the household was murdered. I adore reading about imperfect families in crime novels, where everyone is suspect, when the limit between hate and love can be very thin, and Crooked House¬†was perfect for that!


I also recommend you to watch and listen to…

‚ô°¬†Stranger Things (Netflix, 2016) – I don’t think I really need to introduce Stranger Things¬†to anyone now, don’t I? This TV show, sets in 1983 Hawkins, Indiana, and is the story of a young boy who vanishes into thin air. As friends, family and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl.¬†Even if almost everyone has watched Stranger Things, I think that Halloween would be a perfect time for a rewatch for all of us, while we’re still waiting for season 3 to be released… *sigh*


‚ô° Tim Burton’s¬†Corpse Bride (2005) – I have to admit that I’ve always been easily scared, so I don’t watch a lot of spooky movies (even though I’m trying to change that) and I’m not really the best at recommending them. However, I rewatch the animated movie Corpse Bride every year, because it’s a huge part of my childhood. In a fictional Victorian town, Victor and Victoria, who haven’t even met yet, are set to be married, until Victor ends up putting a ring on a forest root while practicing his vows… Which happens to be the finger of a murdered woman. He then goes to the Land of the Dead, meeting Emily, said woman in a bridal gown who claims to be his wife. Ensues all kinds of mayhem, while Victor tries to go back to the surface, but also to do the right thing. I adore the songs of this movie so much and it’s so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Halloween really is the best time to rewatch Tim Burton’s animated movies in general, tbh. *starts singing This is Halloween*


‚ô°¬†Andrew Lloyd Weber’s¬†
The Phantom of the Opera (1986) – I might have developed a *slight* obsession for the musical version of The Phantom of the Opera earlier this year (the book isn’t that great, if you were considering reading it, though) and it’s definitely a perfect Halloween musical! I mean, a mysterious phantom running around an opera in Paris? Yes, please. Can you believe that it’s been created in 1986 and it’s still running? That’s how great it is! So please go listen to it, it’s so dramatic and spooky at times! The Music of the Night is my favourite song of it all and it’s giving me major Kylo Ren vibes.¬†I so want to watch the musical live in London at some point, it must be so spectacular.

Oh, how I cannot wait for Halloween to come around. I have *finally* figured out my potential Halloween costume and I’m planning to have a little celebration with my best friend. We’ll try to make Halloween-themed food and drinks like last year, and we’ll watch Crimson Peak, hopefully we won’t be too scared, haha.

How are you planning to celebrate Halloween?

Lots of love,
Lucie







Credits: The ghosts and bats in the first picture picture were designed by Titusurya.

Recommending my favourite Victorian novels | A Victober Series

Hello beautiful people!

As you might have seen in some of my previous posts, I am once again participating in Victober this month and I couldn’t be more excited to dedicate a lot of my time to Victorian literature again. I also wanted to focus a bit more on Victorian literature on the blog as well, so I thought I would try*¬†to post once a week about it in October… So it’s the beginning of a month-long Victober series! For this first week, I wanted to talk about my favourite Victorian novels, so without further ado, let’s do this!


*we’ll see how this goes, as I’m quite busy with uni, reading and everything else, haha.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1874)

Far from the Madding Crowd¬†is the novel that started it all, reignited my love for classics and made me fall in love with Hardy’s writing, it also is one of my top 3 favourite novels. It follows Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and proud working woman whose life is complicated by three different men, making her the object of scandal and betrayal. I adore how it discusses the place of women in a world dominated by men and how strong Bathsheba is (even though she can be quite annoying at times), the way Hardy describes rural communities and most of all, I adore Gabriel Oak so much. I’d also totally recommend the 2015 movie adaptation with Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts, it’s one of my favourite movies and I listen to the soundtrack all the time.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bront√ę (1848)

If you don’t know Anne Bront√ę is my favourite Bront√ę sister, even though I love them all. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall¬†impressed me so much, it was so ahead of its time and Victorian society wasn’t really ready for it, which only makes me love it more. This novel is about a mysterious woman who lives at Wildfell Hall, running away from her past (I don’t want to say too much, so I shall stay quite mysterious in my summary)…¬†It¬†deals with so many important themes, such as gender roles, abuse and alcoholism, and is considered a feminist novel. Helen is one of the strongest female heroines I have come across in the 19th century and I can’t help but to adore her. If you still haven’t read Anne’s works, please give her a chance, she deserves it so much.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bront√ę (1847)

Wuthering Heights¬†is the first Victorian novel I read as a teenager, because I was curious about English literature and it sure didn’t disappoint. This novel starts when Lockwood has to seek shelter at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the tempestuous story of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how it influenced the lives of their descendants.¬†I adored Emily’s dark and twisted characters, the story and her writing style as well as the chilling atmosphere on the moors. It’s been so long since I first read this one, so I’m hoping to reread it before the end of the year or at the beginning of the next one, we’ll see.


Tess of the d’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891)

I know it’s not very original to mention one of Hardy’s novels for the second time in this post, but he’s one of my favourite writers and I rated so many of his novels 5/5 stars.¬†This one is about Tess¬†Durbeyfield¬†who has to claim kinship with the wealthy d’Ubervilles family, but meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. Later on, Tess meets Angel Clare, who seems to offer her love and salvation, but she has to decide whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. Once again, I adored the themes Hardy addressed in this one, with the theme of the ‘fallen woman’ in a very patriarchal society, as well as the criticism of social conventions and the thin line that exist between what society considers right or wrong. It’s a very heartbreaking read, but a stellar novel. I also adored the 2007 BBC adaptation, which starred Gemma Arterton as Tess and Eddie Redmayne as Angel (okay, I first wanted to read this novel because of Eddie, I’ll confess it).

Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)

Another Victorian author I adore is Elizabeth Gaskell and my favourite of her works is Ruth, which isn’t very well-known. This novel is about Ruth, who works in a sweatshop and is selected to attend a ball to repair torn dresses, which leads her to meet aristocrat Henry Bellingham. They form a secret friendship which goes horribly wrong for Ruth when she discovers she is pregnant. It centers around the ‘fallen woman’ theme again, which might seem a bit weird, but a lot of my favourite classic novels deals with that topic. I find it really interesting when authors take a stand and criticize how women who had children out of wedlock were judged and treated by society, even though it’s quite revolting and heartbreaking. I love how compassionate Gaskell’s take was, especially considering it was the first half of the 19th century. I also adore North and South, her most famous novel, but this one definitely took me by surprise!

So there you have it, here are my favourite Victorian novels! You can quite tell who my favourite Victorian authors are thanks to this post for sure. I have so many Victorian novels I am eager to read, though, so I hope this list will grow bigger and bigger as time goes on.


Lots of love,
Lucie

Books set near the sea | Recommendations



Hello, beautiful people!

As we now are in August, it feels like everyone is talking about summer holidays in the northern hemisphere. Summer holidays always make me long to be near the sea, and with that comes a need to read books set there. Now, I don’t like the heat at all and I’m way more into the windy beaches of the north of France (and hopefully those of Cornwall, someday), but to each their own. Because of that, I thought it would be the perfect time to recommend you books set near the sea, to feel like you’re on holidays. I picked up five books from different genres set there, so hopefully you’ll be able to find one you might enjoy!

Can you imagine this? You feel the wind in your hair… It smells like the sea… You hear the waves crashing on the sand… Your feet are in the sand… You have the perfect book in your hands…

¬†… Yes?¬†

Okay, now let’s go.


The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier

Genres: modern classics, historical fiction, romance


Why should you read it during the holidays? The Loving Spirit, Daphne du Maurier’s debut, is a family saga set in the 20th century. It first follows Janet Coombe, who yearns to sail, to travel, to have adventures, to know freedom, but constrained by times, she marries a boat builder and settles down to raise a family. Janet’s loving spirit is passed on to her son and his descendants. I adore the way du Maurier depicts human nature and knowing that it was her debut novel, I can’t help, but be impressed by her writing, this one is quite unfairly underrated. In this novel, the sea is as much a character as the human ones, as the members of the family are fascinated by it and wants to sail. I actually felt like I was in Cornwall, the sea wind in my hair for the whole time. For that, it’s such a perfect summer read!
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Genres: young adult, paranormal

Why should you read it during the holidays? The Wicked Deep is actually set during the summer, in a town near the sea where three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under. I loved reading this one, because it is set in our world and feels like supposedly perfect, but going horribly wrong, to the point that no one dares going to the water anymore and I love the paranormal twist to it. 

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Genres: young adult, contemporary

Why should you read it during the holidays? This one is the only contemporary novel on the list, because I don’t read those that often, but I really enjoyed How to Make a Wish recently, which is a contemporary set in the summer in a tiny cape (there is a lighthouse!). It follows Grace, a girl who is emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother and has never lived more than three months in the same place. She then meets Eva, a grief-stricken and lonely girl, who pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. It was such an honest contemporary, tackling down important issues, with an amazing f/f romance and great representation (Grace describing what bisexual meant to her was so accurate), and it has such a summery setting. There is no reason not to read it during the summer!

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Genres: fiction, mystery, crime

Why should you read it during the holidays?¬†I do believe that there is one of Agatha Christie’s novels perfect for every occasion, and when it comes to summer holidays, the first one that comes to my mind is¬†Death on the Nile, one of the first Agatha Christie I have ever read. This particular one is
set on a cruise on the Nile, which sounds full of tranquillity and of rest, an idyllic holiday. But as always, everything goes wrong, because one of the passengers is murdered. The fact that it is set in Egypt makes you travel there, next to Hercule Poirot, and it definitely feels like a holiday (gone wrong once again though, ahem, this is a trend). Considering how short and gripping Christie novels are, they’re perfect to binge-read on the beach!



The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


Genres: historical fiction, epistolary novel

Why should you read it during the holidays?¬†This one is set in Guernsey – one of the Channel Islands – which makes it a perfect summer read, because it is literally set on an island, meaning that there is the sea all around it. This historical novel is set after World War II and follows Juliet Ashton, a writer, who is looking for the subject of her next book. She receives the letter of a man who has found her name written in a book by Charles Lamb. Through their correspondnce, Juliet gets to know the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was created as an excuse during the German occupation of the island. Captivated by the members’ stories and their love for books, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. I have actually just finished reread it and it is such a gem: while I read it in April, I couldn’t stop thinking about it (even though I watched the movie in June), and rereading it felt like home. Honestly, any book lover might enjoy it because of the way it talks about books, but it’s wonderful in so many way. I made my best friend and my mom read it and they both loved it!

Which books make you feel like you’re on holidays?¬†
Do you have any books set near the sea to recommend?


Lots of love,
Lucie

    French classics recommendations | Celebrating Bastille Day

    Hello, beautiful people!


    Today is Bastille Day, the French National Day! It celebrates the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille on July 14th 1789, as well as la F√™te de la F√©d√©ration (Federation’s Party I guess?) celebrated on July 14th 1790, which celebrated the unity of the French people.¬†

    Happy Bastille Day!


    While I’m French, I mostly read in English, because there are so many books I want to discover that were written in that language and that’s also why I’m always speaking in English on social media. However, I have many French classics that I adore and I thought today would be the perfect excuse to share that with you all!

    Side note:¬†all the Goodreads links are of course, for the translations in English! I’m not completely sure whether the Marcel Pagnol books I recommended were translated, but they can be a good place to start if you want to try to read in French. *wink* The first three recommendations are my ultimate favourites, then I put the books in publication order!


    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862)

    I couldn’t start this post with any other book, because¬†Les Mis√©rables¬†is my favourite book ever. It is set through different time periods and places, but mainly follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict who tries to put his past behind him. His path crosses many times with memorable characters, such as Fantine, Javert, the Th√©nardiers, Cosette, Gavroche or Marius. It is such a masterpiece, depicting history so closely (a lot of it is set in 1832 during the barricades), crafting such fleshed-out characters, with a gripping plot, even though it’s more than a thousand pages long. I won’t even get started on Marius and Cosette, but I adore them so much. I dedicated an entire blog post to¬†Les Mis√©rables¬†last year, as it’s both my favourite book¬†and¬†my favourite musical, so if you’re interested in that, it’s¬†here. Please, whether it’s the abridged version or the musical, give it a chance, it’s so worth it.
    The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal (1839)

    Many readers know Stendhal thanks to his novel The Red and the Black (Le Rouge et le Noir), but my personal favourite is The Charterhouse of Parma (La Chartreuse de Parme), set in Italy during the Napoleonic Wars. It follows the young aristocrat Fabrizio del Dongo, who wants to go to war to fight for Napoléon. He stumbles on the Battle of Waterloo, ill-prepared, yet filled with enthusiasm for war and glory. He goes back to Milan and is entangled in a series of amorous exploits, fuelled by his impetuous nature and the political chicanery of his aunt Gina and her lover. According to Balzac, it is the most important French novel of its time, a compelling novel of extravagance and daring, blending the intrigues of the Italian court with the romance and excitement of youth. I read this one for a literature class four years ago and I absolutely fell in love with it. Fabrizio and Clélia are my ridiculous babies and I love them so much.

    The Ladies’ Paradise¬†by Emile Zola (1883)

    Ever since we had to read¬†The Ladies’ Paradise¬†at the end of middle school, I’ve been obsessed with Emile Zola and one of my life goals is to read his entire¬†Rougon-Macquart¬†series, which follows the fates of an entire family during the Second Empire in France (from 1851 to 1870) and is made of twenty novels.¬†The Ladies’ Paradise¬†is by far my favourite novel by Zola and the first I have ever read. The novel recounts the rise of the modern department store in late nineteenth-century Paris. Its main character, Denise Baudu, is particularly interesting, because she’s such an independent and hard-working woman, very different from Zola’s usual female characters. She wasn’t even supposed to be the heroine of this novel at first, as it also follows Octave Mouret, founder and owner of the store, and I love her even more knowing that. The store itself is a character, it’s a symbol of capitalism, of the modern city, and of the bourgeois family: it is emblematic of changes in consumer culture, in sexual attitudes and in class relations taking place at the end of the century.¬†

    Interesting fact:¬†The BBC period drama series¬†The Paradise¬†was inspired by this novel. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m planning to, at some point!

    Salammb√ī¬†by Gustave Flaubert (1862)

    Gustave Flaubert’s most famous works are¬†Madame Bovary¬†and¬†Sentimental Education, but plot twist, I haven’t read any of them just yet, but fell in love with this historical novel,¬†Salammb√ī. This one is an epic story of lust, cruelty, and sensuality set in Carthage in the days following the First Punic War with Rome, with such historical details that there aren’t many French historical novels that can compare to it. I’m fascinated by this novel, because I studied history and adore understanding what people knew of history during their time, how they viewed it, how they studied it and Salammb√ī is a great example of that.¬†

    A Love Story by Emile Zola (1879)

    My second favourite novel by Emile Zola is A Love Story¬†(Une Page d’Amour), it’s also translated as A Love Episode¬†sometimes. It¬†follows Helene, a young widow who lives a secluded life with her only child, Jeanne, a delicate and nervous girl who jealously guards her mother’s affections. When Jeanne falls ill, she is attended by a doctor, who falls in love with Helene.¬†Jeanne realizes she has a rival for Helene’s devotion in the doctor, and begins to exercise a tyrannous hold over her mother.¬†This novel is an intense psychological and nuanced portrayal of love’s different forms. Zola’s study extends most notably to the city of Paris itself, whose shifting moods reflect Helene’s emotional turmoil in passages of extraordinary lyrical description.

    Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant (1885)

    Bel-Ami¬†is fairly well-known outside of France, especially since there was a movie adaptation with Robert Pattinson a few years ago (I don’t think I ever watched it, though). This book is the scandalous tale of an opportunistic young man corrupted by the allure of power. George Duroy, the main character, is offered a job as a journalist in La Vie Fran√ßaise and soon makes a great success of his new career. He learns to become¬†an arch-seducer, blackmailer and social climber in a world where love is only a means to an end.¬†It also describes very accurately the life of Paris in the Belle Epoque very accurately and I’ve read it several times, I really love this one.
    Swann’s Way¬†(1913)¬†and¬†In the Shadow of Young¬†
    Girls in Flowers (1919) by Marcel Proust

    Swann’s Way¬†(Du C√īt√© de Chez Swann) and¬†In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flowers¬†(A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs) are the first two books in Marcel Proust’s¬†In Search for Lost Time¬†(A la Recherche du Temps Perdu) series, which is set at the beginning of the 20th century in France. I love reading about society at that time and the author portrayed it so well. In this seven book series,¬†¬†Proust attempted the perfect rendering of life in art, of the past recreated through memory. It is both a portrait of the artist and a discovery of the aesthetic by which the portrait is painted, and it was to have an immense influence on the literature of the twentieth century. The first two books follow the narrator as a child and as a young man, there are a bit hard to read at times because they don’t have many chapters, but I enjoyed them so much. I’m so glad I got motivated to read them three years ago, thanks to one of my literature professors, and I’m finally going to continue with¬†Guermantes’ Way¬†soon enough, as I want to have read the entire series by the time I turn twenty-five!


    Marius (1929), Fanny (1931) and César (1936) by Marcel Pagnol

    Marcel Proust is a French author I adore, I’ve read most of his plays when I was a teenager and I have such a fond memory of it. My favourites are a trilogy set in Marseilles in the 1920s, namely¬†Marius,¬†Fanny¬†and¬†C√©sar¬†(the names of the three main characters). To sum it up, it follows Marius – the son of C√©sar, owner of the local bar on the port – who is torn between his love for Fanny, who sells shells for a living, and his desire to travel the world. I adore these characters and relate so much to them, to the point that reading the plays made me cry, when I still haven’t seen them on stage (it’s going to be so much worse). Anyway, it’s my dream to see them on stage one day. Marcel Pagnol usually writes about the south of France and I really enjoy that, because I don’t know that part of my country very well.
    Antigone by Jean Anouilh (1946)

    I read this play for a class when I was younger and adored it. This play in one act is a tragedy inspired by Greek mythology and Sophocles’ own play about Antigone. She is the daughter of Oedipus and his mother Jocasta and the main character in this story, in which she attempts to secure a respectable burial for her brother Polynices. Oedipus’ s
    ons, Eteocles and Polynices, had shared the rule jointly until they quarrelled and Eteocles expelled his brother. When Polynices came back, he attacked the city of Thebes with his army and both brothers were killed in battle; Polynices is considered a traitor and can’t get a proper burial, but his sister Antigone defies this rule. This play was originally produced in Paris during the Occupation and was published after the Second World War. What’s interesting about it is that it depicts an authoritarian¬†regime and the play’s central character, the young Antigone, mirrored the predicament of the French people in the grips of tyranny. I’m fascinated by Greek mythology, so of course I’m always interested to learn more about it, but seeing it reflected in French history is so clever and what makes this play great to read and see.



    There are still so many French classics I want to get to and writing this blog post motivated me even more to finally get to them. Who knows? I might have more recommendations next year!

    French classics I want to get to as soon as possible:
    If English isn’t your first language, what are your favourite books in your language?¬†¬†Can you read in another language?¬†Have you ever read French classics? If so, which ones?


    Lots of love,
    Lucie

    Historical fantasy novels you should read for Halloween



    Hello, beautiful people!


    We are now more than halfway through October, which means that Halloween is right around the corner. I know that a lot of readers like to read specific books for that time of the year and well, that’s also my case. Personally, I absolutely love to read historical fantasy novels in the Fall (but it’s my favourite genre, so it actually happens all year) and that’s why I wanted to recommend you some in this post. Basically, if you love The Infernal Devices¬†trilogy… All of these books are right up your alley!


    I had no choice but to start this book recommendations post with my second favourite YA trilogy¬†(that I really need to reread and to get physical copies of), Something Strange and Deadly¬†by Susan Dennard. I have to admit I was put off by this book for a very long time, because I knew it involved zombies and they freak me out. Now that I’ve said this, let me go back. This book is actually more about necromancy, which means someone is raising the Dead and it’s causing all sorts of mayhem.

    Something Strange and Deadly is¬†set in 1876 Philadelphia and follows Eleanor Fitt, who has to associate with the Spirit-Hunters to try to find her brother, who might have been taken by the person raising the Dead. Something Strange and Deadly¬†is a trilogy and every single book is set in a different place, has amazing historical details and characters, as well as steampunk elements. It talks to my very soul. I’m completely in love with it and I need more people to read this trilogy! Susan Dennard is best-known for her best-selling fantasy her Witchlands¬†series and while I adore that one, Something Strange and Deadly has a very special spot in my heart.

    To know more about these books:


    This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

    A lot of readers have already read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue¬†by the same author that came out earlier this year, and it makes me very happy that Mackenzi Lee is getting the recognition she deserves, but did you know that I LOVED¬†her debut novel that came out in 2015? It’s a steampunk novel set in 1818 Geneva and wait for it… It’s a reimagining of Frankenstein (just writing this, I’m sold and I’ve already read it)!

    This Monstrous Thing follows Alasdair, a young man who lost everything two years prior the beginning of the novel, his brother and his sweetheart. In a city where men built with clockwork parts are a reality and illegal, he brings his brother back from the dead, who returns more monster than man. Then, Frankenstein comes out and the city is doing its best to find the real doctor and its monster.

    To know more about this book:


    The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

    Cat Winters is quite an amazing author, because out of the three books I’ve read by her… I have never been disappointed. She writes historical fiction set at the beginning of the 20th century with supernatural elements. I could recommend you In the Shadow of Blackbirds¬†and The Steep and Thorny Way¬†as well, but The Cure for Dreaming¬†was the very first of her books that I read and it absolutely made me fall in love with her books.

    The Cure for Dreaming¬†is set in 1900 Oregon and follows Olivia, a headstrong girl that her father wishes to be docile. He hires a mysterious young man named Henri Reverie to hypnotize the rebellion out of her, but he gives her a terrible gift instead:¬†she‚Äôs able to see people‚Äôs true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also being unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. It only makes Olivia willing to speak up for women’s rights even more, all the while starting to be attracted to Henri.

    To know more about this book:


    The Diviners by Libba Bray

    I reread The Diviners recently and I remembered what a perfect Halloween read this one was. It’s set in 1920s New York and follows Evie O’Neill, who has been expelled from her boring hometown to go live in New York with her uncle Will, who is obsessed with the occult. Evie has a secret of her own: she has trouble with a supernatural power and that’s why her parents shipped her off to the city (they don’t believe her, though). Soon, New York is trembling because of murders that might involve the occult. The Diviners¬†follows s
    everal other characters who seem to 
    either¬†have powers or secrets of their own, and all the while… something dark and evil has awakened.

    I adore this series so much, even though it takes ages for a book to be published (but the third one just came out, we’re almost there!). However, it means that I can reread the books every time one is coming out. I find the 1920s and the occult absolutely fascinating, and Libba Bray is amazing at creating complex characters and gripping storylines. These books might seem a bit dense, but you won’t be able to put them down, because you’ll have to know what’s happening.


    Last but not least, let’s talk about the book that actually inspired me to write this post,¬†The Witches of New York¬†by Ami McKay. This one is set in 1880 and follows three witches who practice their craft and work at their own tea shop. I had strong The Diviners¬†vibes from this one, probably because it was set in New York in a society obsessed with the occult.¬†

    This novel is a very atmospheric and engrossing read. I didn’t want to get away from the book when I was reading it, because I wanted to know what would be next. I adored all the historical aspects that Ami McKay put into this book, because I’m a history nerd and loved remembering some cultural details through this book (I’ll just say: tell the bees when I’m gone). It was one of those books that was perfect for me and it screams Halloween read. I’m so happy I got around that one.

    To know more about this book:



    So there you have it, here are the five historical fantasy novels (well, more than that because there are two book series in the list) that you could read near Halloween, if you’re in the mood for that genre. If you have more recommendations of historical fantasy novels/books to read for Halloween, please let me know.

    Lots of love,
    Lucie